Sunday, January 27, 2008


Picked this up because I missed it in theaters 10yrs ago. In it, Nicholas Cage plays detective / "surveillance specialist" Tom Welles. He gets hired by a nearly-mummified widow and she asks him to figure out the origin of an 8mm film that the widow's husband had stashed away in his safe. It seems to be a snuff film of a young girl being murdered.

Then Welles goes on a tour de force of the Smut Underground. Starting with strip clubs. Progressing to bondage pits. And ultimately ascending the smut ladder to meet up with actual producers and cast members.

In his wanderings, he joins forces with Joaquin Phoenix (aka Max California.) And they end up doing battle with Peter Stormare (Dino Velvet,) James Gandolfini (Eddie Poole,) and Chris Bauer (The Machine!)

I thought the tone and theme of the movie was well done and maintained throughout. I also liked how the plot unfolded. Especially the pseudo-detective work draped across everything. But I found the character of Tom Welles to be barely believable. Everyone else was gritty and painful and effective. But I just couldn't suspend my disbelief that a) Wells would have called the real authorities at multiple points, and b) Wells would have been dead dead dead several times if this had been fact and not fiction.

That being said, I actually enjoyed the acting and thought it had many entertaining settings. And I really liked the overarching moral theory that: "bad things" don't happen for some Aristotle-esque reason, atrocities happen because people want them to happen, people make them happen, and people let them happen. We either accept that, or we don't.

Overall, I thought it was a good movie, especially for a slow weekend. Certainly worth a $2 rental.

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